“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated”
~ From Old man and the sea, describing the fisherman, Santiago
Before going ahead with this scribbling, I would like to confess to those who are with me for so many days, especially in the literary reviews. My scribbling is not ’review’ in the technical sense. This might serve the purpose of anecdotes that might introduce some of you regarding authors and their works. Off to Old Man & the sea.
When I was pursuing Management Course, we were constantly reminded of an uninteresting dossier of theories with heading “If you feed them fish, they will keep on begging. If you teach them fishing, you make their life”
Old man Santiago was mentoring the young boy Manolin in the art of fishing. He raised him as his own boy and they enjoyed a warm camaraderie. Manolin was emotionally attached to Santiago and took care of him like his own dad. But one day when Manolin left him to oblige the wish of his biological parents, old man was flummoxed by empty nest syndrome. Life should go on and the old man who kept himself away from the new techniques of fishing has got nothing but his will power.
84 days passed wherein he could not catch a single fish. On the 85th day, he was feeling good and almost determined to catch an impressive fish. He sailed to Gulf Stream alone there he encountered with a huge Marlin(Belongs to the Billfish category).
When you catch something which is bigger than you, it calls for new sets of challenges. Marlin drags him to deep sea and now he is away from main land. The only company he had was troubled water and Marlin.He was bruised and was subject to extreme wretchedness but he decided not to leave his big catch for which he waited for 85 days.
In the troubled water, the fish and the old man were literally and figuratively united and they started enjoying the company of each other. Some of the most interesting monologues like “Fish, I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends” represent the old man’s longing for a company and existential crisis. In between, he was fighting with sharks to protect Marlinand there he might have seen the image of Manolinwhom he raised.The sense of pride and compassion, urge to live were the motivation for Santiagoto fight. He feel like imbibing the spirit of his hero Joe DiMaggio.
While describing the odds faced by the old man in the troubled water, were he saw the feminine temperament, Hemingwaycreate magic with his phrases – To quote a few –
To express the “never say die attitude” of Santiago the following phrases / sentences were used
“The man is never lost at sea” ; “To hell with luck. I’ll bring the luck with me” ; “”A man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated”
Whether the old man will outlive the challenges or will he succumb to death? What happens, if he survives? How the symbols used in the novel transcends space, time and geography? It is worth experiencing and hence not elaborating.
Ernest Hemingway’s[author] life is stranger than fiction. He met with multiple accidents and had narrow escapes. But alas, when he shot himself to death, he left many questions —- Whether he nurtured the spirit of Santiago or it was his distant dream? No idea! Committing suicide was not new in his family – His dad, two siblings, granddaughter all belong to the same league.
One who read Hemingway closely will not fail to notice the change in style from how he used to write [especially in comparison with Across the river and into the trees ] and I love to believe that he was the not the prisoner of ideologies or thoughts. He lead a turbulent life and naturally, his thoughts were are turbulent. He might have decided to anchor his thoughts on faith.
Hemmingway was criticised a lot also for this work due to the relatively innocuous reference of “faith in God“especially because he was considered to be an ardent advocate of realism. But alas, critics always failed to notice that there is an invisible caveat ; A person is subject to changes all the time and opinions are not cast iron bricks”.
Just to quote the accolades won by this work – Pulitzer and Nobel Prize. A must read ——- you will be able to finish in a single sitting as the entire story is told in lesser number of pages!